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Ben Ainslie to compete in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race aboard the 49.5m charter yacht ELEONORA

April 23, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management, title sponsor of the Round the Island Race as well as title sponsor of triple Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie CBE has announced that Ben’s final public competing performance prior to his bid for a fourth Gold medal in his Finn, will be aboard the Big Class sailing yacht Eleonora. Having entered this year’s Round the Island Race on Saturday 30th June, the luxury charter yacht Eleonora is a 49.5m (162´4´´) spectacular schooner with some excellent vital statistics.

49.5m luxury charter yacht Eleonora Photo by Franco Pace

The 49.5m luxury charter yacht Eleonora - Photo by Franco Pace

Main Characteristics of the luxury yacht Eleonora

Length overall: 49,50 m / 162,40 ft
Length on deck: 41,50 m / 136,15 ft
Length on waterline: 29,30 m / 96,13 ft
Beam: 8,20 m / 26,90 ft
Draft: 5,20 m / 17,06 ft
Displacement: 214 tons

The Big Class superyacht Eleonora is an exact replica of the schooner Westward which was launched on March 31, 1910 as hull number 692 at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in Bristol, Rhode Island, USA. She was arguably one of the most famous and best known racing schooners in the world.

The 49.5m yacht Eleonora was built at the Van der Graaf shipyard in Holland and was launched in March 2000. Since then, she has successfully participated in a number of classic sailing regattas and hosted on board a number of high profile guests during her charter activities. She was last seen in the Solent in July 2010 when she competed in the inaugural Westward Cup and she will be returning to compete in the 2012 Event just prior to the Round the Island Race.

During the Round the Island Race, Ben will co-helm with the charter yacht Eleonora’s owner, with the assistance of Eleonora’s captain Mike McMillan. Sharing the 25- strong crew duties will be a number of J.P. Morgan Asset Management guests alongside guests of the owner. They will undoubtedly enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

Ben, who was originally entered on the Beneteau First 40 yacht, is delighted to have this amazing opportunity commenting, “When I was asked to sail on-board the 49.5 metre schooner Eleonora in this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, it was an offer that was too good to turn down. This will be my seventh Round the Island Race and I’ve competed in everything from an Open 60, Extreme 40, Kerr 40 to an SB3 – but nothing is going to match sailing the 50 mile course on this beautiful classic and I would like to thank her owner Mr Zbynek Zak and J.P. Morgan Asset Management for making this happen.”

Top British 470 sailor Hannah Mills will start this year’s Race

Hannah Mills, one of the country’s most outstanding young sailors and top medal hopefuls this summer, will take time out of her busy training schedule to start this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. She will be competing in the annual Race alongside fellow Team Volvo sailors Olympic gold medallist, Paul Goodison and her 470 sailing partner Saskia Clark on one of the Volvo Car UK Farr 45 entries.  The 2012 Race is her second attempt to race around the Island after last year’s tough weather conditions forced her team’s Laser SB3 to retire at the Needles.

470, Olympics, Dingy, Weymouth, Portland, Hannah Mills

Top British 470 sailor Hannah Mills will start this year’s Race

“It’s a privilege to be starting the 2012 Round the Island Race; such an exciting event with a great atmosphere and I’m really looking forward to taking part again. The aim this year is to not only make it past the Needles but to also be the first Team Volvo boat back to Cowes!” said Hannah Mills, the 23 year-old from Cardiff.

Hannah’s sailing career began at the age of eight in the Optimist dinghy and she is still the only British sailor to have won the Optimist Girls’ World Championships, after becoming the first ever girl to win the British National title a year earlier. Since teaming up with Saskia Clark in the 470 dinghy a year ago the team have enjoyed a number of successes including a silver medal at the 2011 pre-Olympic Test Event, Weymouth and Portland.

Henri Lloyd Official Race Clothing

The official clothing provider to the Race, Henri Lloyd, has produced a commemorative official clothing range featuring the official Race logo and which will be on sale exclusively on the Henri Lloyd stand within the Race Village and at selected Henri-Lloyd stores in Cowes, Lymington and Carnaby St, London. The range includes the Henri Lloyd Cipher Jacket, Cipher Vest, Rigger Hoodie, Fast-Dri Polo, Atmosphere T and Fast-Dri Cap.

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Swan 60 yacht Bronenosec takes 7th place at Mapfre Palma Vela 2012

April 23, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg´s Swan 60 sailing yacht Bronenosec, sponsored by Gazprom has taken the 7th place in the Overall Maxi Combined Class of her first international yacht regatta of 2012 at Mapfre Palma Vela.

Swan 60 yacht Bronenosec experienced international fleet racing with some of the world´s top names at Mapfre Palma Vela Credit: MartinezStudio.es

Swan 60 yacht Bronenosec experienced international fleet racing with some of the world´s top names at Mapfre Palma Vela Credit: MartinezStudio.es

Finishing today in a tactically challenging 6 to 8 knots form the North East during the morning’s overcast skies which lifted towards the afternoon producing a Southerly breeze, the team worked closely on their fourth day of racing.

With a combined style of racing required for their first regatta requiring both tight inshore racing and longer distance coastal racing within a range of wind conditions, the event has proven to be an ideal season opener for the team.

A steep learning curve for all of the crew working from testing breezy conditions in the Bay of Palma at the beginning of the week to lighter shiftier conditions over the last 2 days of racing, Mapfre Palma Vela has been an excellent test bed for the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg’s competitive campaign.

Light winds of 6 to 8 knots provided testing conditions for the Gazprom sponsored team on the final day of racing  MartinezStudio es

Light winds of 6 to 8 knots provided testing conditions for the Gazprom sponsored team on the final day of racing Credit: MartinezStudio.es

Vladimir Liubomirov, Commodore, Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg and helming the Swan 60 this week for racing, sees this regatta as a committed start to their global debut: “I am keen to now debrief constructively with the team and set about making realistic changes to our boat handling, kit and general set up to continue pushing our boat speed forwards to meet that of the race boats who clearly have identified their top settings across all wind conditions from a few more years’ experience on this competitive circuit and to also spend time as a cohesive crew so we smoothly continue understanding each other in order to consistently achieve ultimate boat handling techniques, which I hope will translate to race wins.”

Having achieved a 5th place in the heavy weather and to have led fellow Swan 60 yacht Emma round the race track for a noted period of time, the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg team have proven that they have the ability to move up a gear on demand.

The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg Bow Team working cohesively downhill  MartinezStudio es

The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg Bow Team working cohesively downhill Credit: MartinezStudio.es

It is an excellent achievement for this newly formed team to have finished all of the races in the series of their first event with limited breakages.  The Swan 60 can now look forward to slotting into the elitist world of high profile big boat racing against some of the world’s most competitive and accomplished yachts.

The Gazprom sponsored team now have now have another 5 international sailing events on the campaign agenda to prepare for with the long term aim of achieving consistent race results in order to build a solid series and focus on a podium finish.

Victorious debut for the new Audi Azzurra Sailing Team TP52 yacht in PalmaVela 2012

April 22, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The new Audi Azzurra Sailing Team TP52 yacht has achieved victorious debut in the PalmaVela 2012, the opening regatta of the 2012 season, hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team celebrating their victory

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team celebrating their victory Credit: AZZURRA/JESUS RENEDO

The curtain-raising event of the new Azzurra TP52 by Audi couldn’t be any better. In her racing debut she conquered the top spot of the podium by winning the last five races in a row. Not only that, after her victory in the first race earlier in the morning, with a northeasterly breeze starting at 12 knots and dropping to 8, Azzurra would go into the last race already being mathematically the overall winner over Quantum, only fourth today, and Ran. The race committee had to finally cancel the final race after waiting, in vain, for the new, southerly breeze to kick in.

Today it was the turn of Gladiator to try and upset Azzurra that finally prevailed after an exciting duel, thanks to the impeccable maneuvers of the crew and perfect tactical decisions.

“It has been a fantastic regatta – stated the owner Alberto Roemmers – that started with a few mishaps but went on flawlessly and culminated in five consecutive bullets. We know that the 52 Super Series will be challenging but we certainly intend to continue like this!”

Guillermo Parada and Vasco Vascotto, skipper and strategist, after the traditional post-victory champagne battle, wanted to thank everybody that made possible today’s victory as well as the participation in the 52 Super Series 2012: starting with the owner, then the YCCS and Audi, paying a special tribute to the shore team, that gave them the possibility to achieve this result by building a splendid yacht during last winter and by rapidly repairing the damage caused by the strong winds on the opening day.

This is the analysis Checco Bruni, tactician, made: “We have improved day by day, both as a crew as well as in the development of the new boat, with a steady growth that will continue in the coming days. We will in fact remain in Palma to go on with our training and fine-tuning of the yacht. I am particularly pleased with the harmony I have with Vasco, it’s an affinity rarely found between tactician and strategist and one that has visibly bore its fruit. Big congratulations also to Alberto Roemmers who steered skillfully in the starts and the beats, despite having spent very little time at the helm of the newly-built yacht.”

Mapfre PalmaVela 2012 – Final overall results

1. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team p.12
2. Quantum Racing p.17
3. Ran p.20
4. Gladiator p.26

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: Day 9 – Fleet compressed by a concertina effect

April 22, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

With more than 1,750 miles left to the finish line of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, the pressure has increased and the fleet has been compressed by a concertina effect during the last 24 hours on Day 9 of this popular yacht race as the rear markers obtained ground on the front runners.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit Abner KingmanonEdition

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

There is now just 55 miles between all ten teams, and the top four boats are separated by only five miles as they battle for every last fraction of a knot in the race towards Panama City.

On Visit Finland, Olly Osborne reports that the heat is on as his team tracks towards the tropics once again. “Today the midday heat was noticeably uncomfortable,” he said.

“It’s exciting to be racing within only a couple of miles of one another and the crews are anxious to see some gains being made. It goes to show how close the fleet are as the boats further back close the gap with the front of the pack,” Olly said.

“The gulf separating Baja California from mainland Mexico is proving to be quite tricky to cross as the wind is becoming more and more fickle in the open water,” he added, noting that trimming the spinnaker day and night is the most challenging task to ensure they get the most out of what little breeze there is.

On De Lage Landen, Stuart Jackson said his team’s progress has been slow in light airs and he has been feeling the pressure of the teams closing in from behind.

“With the wind decreasing before us and the boats behind us gaining miles it seems the fleet is still as close as ever. Welcome to Yorkshire appeared over the horizon and passed within a mile or so of our stern before continuing inland,” Stuart said.

“The forecast for the next few days remains light and so boats are heading off the rhumb line in search of wind – it remains to be seen which direction will be the most successful,” he added.

The De Lage Landen crew has also been preparing themselves for the searing temperatures that lie ahead with a team haircutting session.

“Pete Smith and I set up shop for haircuts armed with scissors and clippers so the crew are now perfectly groomed and ready for Central American temperatures,” Stuart said.

On Welcome to Yorkshire, skipper Rupert Dean is also reflecting on how close the teams are after well over a thousand miles of ocean racing.

“It certainly illustrates how close and competitive the racing is between the crews of these fabulous one design yachts,” Rupert said, adding that De Lage Landen and Visit Finland had appeared over the horizon, with Stuart Jackson and his team passing just 1.5 miles ahead.

“After the last leg, where we only saw one Clipper briefly over a 28-day period, it’s great to be able to race against competitors we can actually see. For the crews and skippers it focuses the mind, making everybody realise the importance of good trimming and slick evolutions,” he said.

Gold Coast Australia is currently the most southerly boat and skipper, Richard Hewson, reports that he has been finding the wind “a little unpredictable”.

He said the westerly winds yesterday enabled his team to sail a “fantastic course” but instead of veering throughout the afternoon as forecasted it just swung towards the north before midnight.

“The wind on the course appears very patchy, and some of the yachts behind us are having a fantastic ride making up some good miles on us,” he added.

Meteorologist Simon Rowell, who provides all ten teams with the same weather information on a daily basis to ensure a level playing field, said that developments over the next few days would be largely dependent on help the teams get from the land.

“As they go down the long and sometimes steep coastline they will get quite strong katabatic and funneled winds at times, so the skippers will need to keep a good eye on the contours of the land shown on the charts,” Simon said.

Simon is also monitoring plume of volcanic ash, which is being blown in an easterly direction following the eruption of the Popocatepetl volcano, located 50 miles from Mexico City, in recent days.

“Its plume is blowing due east right now and dispersing quite quickly, so any ash will go east first before being picked up by any northerlies coming down from lows in the Gulf of Mexico. If the volcano stays at its current level of activity I don’t think it will have much, if any, short-term effect on the local weather for the fleet as the ash concentrations will be pretty low by the time they reach that area,” Simon said.

Eruptions from the Popocatepetl volcano began to grow larger a week ago as columns of ash began pouring from more than 60 openings in the 17,886-foot high cone. Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center said one string of eruptions on Friday included at least 12 eruptions in two hours. Popocatepetl’s last major eruption was in 2000, which resulted in 50,000 people being evacuated.

Like all the skippers, Richard Hewson on Gold Coast Australia, is paying close attention to reports provided by Simon Rowell about the plume of volcanic ash.

“Who knows what a cloud of ash could do to the predicted weather systems and possible sea breezes that will hopefully take us down the coast when the gradient pressure diminishes. Only time will tell what the effect of the volcano will have and the team on Gold Coast Australia send our thoughts to those living near the volcano and hope they are safe,” Richard said.

The team on New York has been struggling to keep moving with less than ten knots of true wind for most of the day.

“We could see other yachts to our south making better speed and heading but as we got to there the wind was still light, and with reports from other yachts of wind of around 15 knots true, it’s almost like we have the light winds following us around,” skipper, Gareth Glover, laments.

The New York team has also been joined by some feathered friends, with a dove making a temporary home for itself on their working spinnaker pole and a gull getting comfortable in an unlikely spot on their Windex, the arrow at the top of the mast which indicates wind direction.

“The day has also been one of the hottest so far and the crew have rigged up sun shades over the helm,” Gareth said, adding that the stars at night have been some of the most spectacular they have experienced to date since leaving Southampton last July.

Qingdao’s skipper, Ian Conchie, said he was running out of expressions to describe how nice the weather has been as his team continues to run downwind along the coast of Mexico.

Ian said he had opted to hold a more northerly course as De Lage Landen and Welcome to Yorkshire gybed south.

“We had a horrible few hours around sunset where all the other teams we could see on AIS [the system which enables the teams to track vessels in the vicinity] were going faster than us. Derry-Londonderry and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital were going nearly twice as fast but now we are all going at roughly the same speed,” Ian said.

Derry-Londonderry’s sudden spurt of speed could be due to the removal of a huge amount of kelp lodged around her keel.

Skipper Mark Light had decided that it was time to investigate after experiencing “frustratingly low” boat speed for 36 hours. “We had slipped from second place to tenth place in 24 hours and were beginning to run out of ideas as to why we just couldn’t keep up,” he said.

After inspecting the underside of the boat with an underwater camera, Mark and his crew discovered what had been hampering their progress.

“When the video was played back on the ship’s laptop the scene was amazing. We witnessed the largest amount of kelp I’d ever seen hanging securely around the keel explaining why we’d been approximately two knots slower than every other boat in the fleet,” Mark explained.

In order to remove the unwelcome passenger attached to Derry-Londonderry’s undersides, the team headed up into the wind and backed the mainsail to make the boat go backwards.

“Masses of kelp freed itself from the security of our keel and began floating clear and when we bore away, hoisted our medium weight spinnaker, we shot off at between 10 and 12 knots when could previously only manage a top speed of 7.5 knots,” Mark said.

“Although unlucky, I was pleased to find a reason for our lack of boat speed. All is now well and we are concentrating on rejoining the fleet for some racing on an even keel once again!” he added.

The team on Edinburgh Inspiring Capital has been having a lot of fun sailing in close proximity to Singapore and Derry-Londonderry, according to skipper Flavio Zaboni.

“Singapore gybed some five miles in front of us and the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew put in a lot of effort trying to exceed their speed. We actually managed to gain some distance before they gybed and headed off in a south south-easterly direction again,” Flavio said.

“Just before lunch we gybed too and we’re now waiting for the latest weather information to decide when to gybe back,” Flavio said, adding, “Sailing conditions are just ideal – downwind and warm, so let’s hope they stay with us for a little longer!”

Ben Bowley on Singapore also reports “another glorious day on the water”.

However, the team’s offshore position has failed to help them maintain the breeze. “Our boat speed hovers at a pitiful 5.5 knots and our gybe angles are huge. The plan to stay offshore worked well in the earlier part of the day but as night has fallen, we have seen the wind progressively die to the extent that we are now struggling to keep the boat moving,” Ben said.

“The forecast does not bode well for making much progress over the coming week but it may mix up the fleet a little which can be no bad thing for us in the position we are currently in!” he added.

On Geraldton Western Australia, a much-anticipated first shower since leaving San Francisco has lifted crew spirits as the temperatures soar on board. “Living on boat, in the middle of the ocean, one forgets about the world’s problems, and you begin to live for now,” skipper, Juan Coetzer, said.

“Last night was amazing. We were cruising along at eight knots with flats seas, clear skies and the sea was alive with exploding bio-luminescence Looking astern of the boat, she was leaving a long glowing stream, giving a feeling that we were on a rocket ship on an journey into the unknown. To top the whole experience off, a pod of dolphins came to play, leaving comet like streaks in the water,” Juan said.

Crew berths are still available for Clipper 13-14. No previous experience required. Full training provided.

PalmaVela 2012: Day 3 – Azzurra moves to the top of the leaderboard

April 21, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on their TP52 yacht has reached three victories in three races today, on the third day of PalmaVela, tune-up event organised in preparation for the start of the 52 Super Series, the newly-established series of top-level races.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on their T52 yacht

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on their TP52 yacht Credit: AZZURRA/JESUS RENEDO

After yesterday’s two bullets, the day in PalmaVela was marked by a superb hat trick by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team. The race committee gave the starts of the first two races under a light and unstable breeze while the third and final one saw a fresh breeze between 15 and 18 knots kick in. Even under these changing wind conditions Azzurra had three commanding victories, always in the lead of the fleet. Once again, Azzurra’s results reflected the flawless crew work, excellent tactical calls in what was a tricky race course and a new boat that shows very good speed, helmed by either the skipper, Guillermo Parada, or her owner, Alberto Roemmers.

“Today was definitely a nice day – stated a jubilant Guille Parada moments after docking in – things are going the correct way. I would like to share this happy feeling with our owner Alberto Roemmers who was at the helm, with our sponsor Audi and the YCCS Commodore, Riccardo Bonadeo.”

From a technical standpoint, this is the analysis of Vasco Vascotto: “The result speaks for itself, we cannot but be happy! The most positive fact is the crew’s constant improvement, we are not perfect but we are understanding where we can improve.”

After today’s result, Azzurra moves to the top of the leaderboard, ahead of Quantum and Ran.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: Day 8 – Visit Finland and New York in battle for second place

April 21, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Overnight, the fabulous Baja California saw a very close competing of the teams Visit Finland and New York on Day 8 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race as they battled to catch Gold Coast Australia in variable downwind conditions.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

“We’ve had an encouraging run during the last couple of days and we’re trying to keep the distance covered down to a minimum, with the big rudder blade beneath the boat being turned as little as possible,” Visit Finland’s skipper, Olly Osborne, said.

“The continual spinnaker trimming requires a lot of attention and keeping up this focus for hours on end is not always easy, but careful trimming is essential to keep the boat ghosting along in the lighter airs,” Olly added.

Over the next few days the teams will become more reliant on currents and coastal winds as they race their way towards Panama City.

On New York, Gareth Glover and his team have been working hard to keep their speed up as much as possible in the testing conditions. Despite sustaining damage to their lightweight kite after it caught on a headsail hank, the team has managed to repair it and re-hoist to ensure they have the maximum amount of sail up for the light airs.

“As we head further south we are expecting the wind to continue to drop so have decided to head inshore in the search of a sea breeze,” Gareth said, noting that the his team’s tactics remain to stay inshore and they continue to occupy the most easterly position in the fleet.

“We’ve gybed several times in an effort to make some ground east towards the Mexican coastline while still maintaining an element of south in our course,” he said.

Gold Coast Australia has maintained the lead overnight, and Richard Hewson and his team continue to search for optimum wind in an attempt to keep the opposition at bay.

After the offshore breeze they were hoping for failed to materialise, Gold Coast Australia gybed offshore to cover the fleet. However, this morning Richard reported that he is concerned that the chasing pack will get more wind and eat into their lead.

“Our unfortunate situation at the moment is the yachts behind us have more wind and unless we can reach the better pressure to the south east first our lead will continue to decrease,” Richard said.

“It is interesting to see that the fleet is all still reasonably close even after numerous different tactical strategies have come into play,” he added. A total of 82 miles currently separate the entire fleet with just under 2,000 miles left to run to the finish.

Despite the immense concentration required to ensure optimum trim and a stable spinnaker in the light conditions, the crew spirits on board Gold Coast Australia are being lifted by Mexican-themed food and abundant sea life.

“With the lighter winds crew are kept amused spotting the copious amounts of wildlife around us. Today we saw a large pod of whales on their migration north, our first sea lions lazing in the sun as well as countless dolphins chasing fish,” Richard said.

On Derry-Londonderry, Mark Light and his team are trying to claw their way up the leader board after a frustrating day in a wind hole when they lost valuable places.

“The focus is firmly on playing catch-up now and we’re trying our best to make up the miles lost over the last 24 hours,” he said.

“We’re ghosting along with hardly a sound under a perfectly clear blue sky and beautifully flat azure blue sea. This race is one very long, tactical trimming exercise and the experience that the crew has absorbed with regard to handling spinnakers, trimming, peeling and pole work will be invaluable in the weeks to come,” Mark said.

“With almost certainly the same sail plans across the fleet it is going to be a tough one to pull back but in typical Derry-Londonderry style, we will give our all,” he said.

Another less conventional tactic being employed on Derry-Londonderry is the consumption of as much food as possible. Mark explains that his team is munching its way through “mountains of food” in the hope that it will lighten the boat but only time will tell whether the team’s increased consumption will result in better performance.

Welcome to Yorkshire is managing to hold onto a spot in the top half of the leader board, and Rupert Dean reports that his team has enjoyed another day of downwind sailing under cloudless skies.

“Cruise liners feature a lot around here, most notably at the entrance to the Gulf of California, as they are attracted by the numerous pods of whales, which migrate here annually to mate. Save a few distant spouts, we’ve yet to see any close up, but have spotted several seals and sunfish,” Rupert said.

Rupert added that downwind sailing on Welcome to Yorkshire has developed into a steady routine. “Peels and gybes are interspersed with regular periods of maintenance to keep chafe at bay and our sails in good working order,” he said.

On Singapore, Ben Bowley and his team are still trying to regain the ground lost whilst dealing with a colossal kite wrap earlier in the week.

“We have settled back into the task of trying to reel in some of our competitors by ensuring fastidious kite trim and helming. Close attention to keeping in a decent band of south easterly flowing current running along the continental shelf has also been paramount, rewarding us at times with speeds over the ground in excess of 9 knots for a time,” Ben said.

Ben reported that the wind filled in nicely as his team headed inshore and felt the land effect, but they slowed up again after the sun set.

“With the winds due to go even lighter over the coming 24 hours, we will have to do something to keep Singapore moving at a slightly better pace than we have been managing,” he conceded.

On Qingdao, Ian Conchie reports that his team has been switching between their lightweight and medium weight spinnaker as they head south east towards the finish.

“Each evolution is quick and smooth as we try to make back the ground we lost last night. In the meantime the VHF radio is full of chatter between the teams and we’ve had some amazing sights today of whales broaching and turtles to keep the crew entertained in the sun,” he said.

On Geraldton Western Australia, skipper Juan Coetzer said his crew has been helping each other out and teaching each other new skills as they race towards Panama City.

Juan said his team had been taking advantage of the flat conditions to carry out more running maintenance including stripping the cars off the deck and giving them a service.

The Geraldton Western Australia team has also been reflecting on what they have achieved as they race their way around the globe on a Clipper 68. “How do you finish off a perfect week? You put your blazer on, gather the crew and make a toast to Neptune and our achievements and successes in life,” Juan said.

On Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Flavio Zamboni and his team have enjoyed a light but pretty steady north-westerly breeze for the last 24 hours but their offshore position has failed to help their standing within the fleet.

“Staying further offshore hasn’t really paid off and we’re now chasing the fleet,” Flavio said.

“But morale on board is high, and the crew is enjoying racing and the weather is glorious,” he added.

On De Lage Landen, Stuart Jackson reports that his team has experienced “another day in paradise” after picking up the maximum three points on offer at the Scoring Gate.

“After a couple of days of wonderful sailing, we have already witnessed a some of the most amazing sights we’ve had in the entire race to date. Sporadic pods of dolphins and whales fill the deck with laughter and excitement time and time again,” Stuart said.

“Racing in those conditions is a beautiful reward after the relentless pounding the fleet endured last leg. But the weather conditions might seem misleading, as we are still pushing the yacht to the limit in order to get the results we are looking for,” he added.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Panama City between 9 and 10 May.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team wins two out of three races today at Palma Vela

April 20, 2012

Written by Eva Belanyiova

Today was an exceptional day for Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, achieving two victories in the three races taken place at Palma Vela.

Azzurra Team - Image credit Azzurra:Jesus Renedo

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team - Image credit Azzurra-Jesus Renedo

It was also a very long and demanding day on the water with the last race held almost at sunset. Azzurra scored two clear victories in the first and third race and crossed the finish line in third place in the second race. The day was marked by a fresh breeze between 15 and 18 knots and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team dominated the fleet with a combination of flawless crew work and impeccable tactical calls. The brand new Azzurra TP52 by Audi didn’t suffer from any gear failure,  following yesterday’s rough start in lumpy seas and strong breeze. Azzurra is currently sitting in second place, tied with Ran on equal points, a mere two points behind the provisional leader, Quantum Racing.

“Of course today was markedly better than yesterday – stated the  skipper Guillermo Parada – these first two victories are important and promising for the future.”

“The boat sails very well – added the tactician Checco Bruni – and we are really happy with her speed. It must be stressed that our opponents are all very strong, so we need to get a clean start and then be able to handle the rest of each race without any errors.”


Barcelona, Trofeo Conde de Godò May 23rd – 27th

Porto Cervo, Audi Sardinia Cup June 11th – 17th

Palma de Majorca, Royal Cup                               July 11th – 14th

Palma de Majorca, Copa del Rey                          July 16th – 21st (IRC scoring)

Valencia Cup                                                       September 18th – 22nd

Double Star Cup won by The Wave Muscat at the Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 in Qingdao

April 20, 2012

Written by Eva Belanyiova

Leigh McMillan and his crew secure the victory in Qingdao in the Extreme Sailing Series Act 2, with Red Bull sailing team in the 2nd place and the Group Edmond de Rothschild fighting for the 3rd place against the GAC Pindar team from Britain.

The Wave, Muscat celebrating at the end of racing on the final day of Act 2

The Wave, Muscat celebrating at the end of racing on the final day of Act 2 Qingdao - Photo Lloyds Images

An ecstatic Leigh McMillan and his crew on board The Wave, Muscat won Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series with a race to spare, a feat rarely achieved on the circuit, and move into the lead for the overall Series. But, after 29 races watched by over 55,000 spectators, it came down to the final double points decider to determine who would stand next to the Omani team on the podium. After a fairly disastrous start to the day, Hagara’s hopes of challenging for first place were gone but Red Bull Sailing Team got their act together in the last three races to clinch 2nd place, in what is there first event podium position since Muscat 2011. After starting the day in fifth place, the all-French Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were the comeback kings today, steadily toppling their opponents to claim the final spot on podium.

There were a few anxious faces on the dock this morning as the weather forecasters predicted the same conditions as that fateful day in 2011 that saw an incredible four capsizes. The wind built gradually throughout the day but the effects of the low weather system only began touching the Extreme 40 fleet on Fushan Bay in the final double points race, with increasing poor visibility from the ever encroaching rain clouds.

The Wave, Muscat celebrate their victory - Image credit Lloyds Images

The Wave, Muscat celebrate their victory - Image credit Lloyds Images

The Wave, Muscat came out fighting and made their intentions clear from the first start gun – winning the opening race of the day. Going into the final double points race, and to his surprise, McMillan had an untouchable lead. “We are thrilled to have won here in Qingdao and to have a second and a first place for the first two events is very good stuff for us. We weren’t necessarily expecting to win here. It’s been a tight competition and Red Bull Sailing Team have been performing very well this week and always getting closer and closer, and pushing us harder and harder.”

Everybody’s eyes were on the four teams who were in contention for second place going into the final race, with only 6 points separating them. It was the Danish entry, SAP Extreme Sailing Team who won the race – a repeat of their final race win performance in Act 1 in Muscat – whilst Hagara’s men held their nerve, and position, to finish second. It was a hard day on the water for the Austrians who at one stage looked like they had lost hope of finishing on the podium as they slipped to fifth place. The team, who sat top of the podium for the first two days in Qingdao, were toppled by The Wave, Muscat yesterday and today they seemed to be continuing on the downward trend until the final three races which finally saw Hagara get back in the game. “The whole team is really happy especially as we were leading the first two days then we had a really bad third day. The last day the beginning was really hard for us and we made some really bad decisions on the racecourse so ending up in 2nd place on the podium is great for us and the whole team really deserved it because we pushed really hard.”

Red Bull Sailing Team flies a hull on day 4 - the final day of racing in Qingdao - Image credit Lloyds Images

Red Bull Sailing Team flies a hull on day 4 - the final day of racing in Qingdao - Image credit Lloyds Images

A fourth for Groupe Edmond de Rothschild in the final race also secured their place on the podium: “Before the last race we could have ended second or sixth overall so I feel satisfied about our third position because we are on the podium again,” said skipper of the French favourites.“We know that this is what we must do to win the Championship.”

It wasn’t all celebrations today and a frustrated Ian Williams on board GAC Pindar was narrowly denied a podium finish, which has so far eluded the British sailor: “It was a shame for us… The last race really didn’t go our way – it was tough with Mark Ivey’s sickness and the change of crew halfway through today so we lost our rhythm a little bit. But on the positive side to be doing the last race in with a shot of second overall so we’re pleased with the week overall, just a little bit disappointed at the end.”

Co-organised by the Qingdao Yachting Association, China’s ‘City of Sailing’ has once again demonstrated how they became such a successful Olympic sailing venue. Staging a flawless event with a spectacular opening ceremony, an inclusive social programme for schools and public, and a grand closing ceremony that even the rain could not dampen.

Next step of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series, Act 3 Istanbul 7th-10th June.

Performers at Act 2 closing ceremony - Image credit Lloyds Images

Performers at Act 2 closing ceremony - Image credit Lloyds Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China overall standings after Day 4, 29 races (20.4.12)

Position / Team / Points

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 189 points

2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 174 points

3rd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 171 points
4th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 164 points

5th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 162 points

6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 158 points

7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 130 points

8th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 129 points

9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 74 points

Extreme Sailing Series 2012, Series standings after 2 Acts

Position / Team / Points

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 19 points

2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) 16 points

3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 16 points

4th Oman Air (OMA) 16 points

5th GAC Pindar (GBR) 13 points

6th ZouLou (FRA) 10 points

7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 7 points

8th Alinghi (SUI), 7 points

Local fans brave the rain to get a chance to watch the Extreme-40s racing on the final day in Qingdao

Local fans brave the rain to get a chance to watch the Extreme-40s racing on the final day in Qingdao - Credit: Lloyd Images

Sailor quotes

Pierre Pennec, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild

“Before the last race we could have ended second or sixth overall so I feel satisfied about our third position because we are on the podium again. We know that this is what we must do to win the Championship. What is difficult here is to be consistent. We feel that we have overcome some weaknesses over the last few days and this shows that we have improved and this is important for communication and the work on board. We still have a very important point to work on for the next Act: the starts. The other positive element is that we always manage to climb up spots when we have bad starts, which shows the good work on board, especially in these short races with shifty winds. I would like to congratulate The Wave, Muscat for their great performance over these last four days. Their victory is clear and deserved. We knew that they would be among our adversaries for 2012 season and this confirms our thoughts. We will have to keep an eye on them!”

Hervé Cunningham, mainsail trimmer, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild:

“It was a tough battle to get that result which is just an okay result for us considering where we were at the beginning but regarding who is ahead I wonder if that is enough for us for the goal of the season. But we are still early in the season so we know what we have to do.“

Ramus Kostner, co-skipper SAP Extreme Sailing Team:

“We are still improving all the time and some of our starts were good, and we were able to hold on to our positions so that was really good. When we get in front it looks like we can stay there… All in all we’re pretty happy with our result not to finish last or second last in our second event here in Qingdao.”

Morgan Larson, Oman Air

“All in all we sailed a decent regatta, we are just a little disappointed with the last couple of races but the guys did a good job and we hung tough. We didn’t have good starts and made some tactical errors that cost us some points and this is a challenging venue.

“We are comfortable now on the boat and feeling that we are with the fleet and we are competitive and we want to be in the top three at every event so we are disappointed with our result here and just have to come back in Istanbul and get back into the top two or three.”

Phil Robertson, China Team

“Our first event here has been a challenge. We have trying to come to grips with the boats and the overall set up. This has been the biggest thing we have learnt and how to make the boat go fast. Today came a bit better. We tuned the boat a little better and we had a bit more speed so today was much better.

“It’s been very good competition here in Qingdao and probably higher than we expected. We are very impressed with the whole organisation and the very short courses. This is definitely a new step for us and a different challenge. We are very happy about how it all went and are keen to come back.”

Pierre-Yves Jorand, Alinghi

“It has been a tough and a little frustrating regatta for us but the conditions were good and sailing was fantastic with very tight results at the end. Qingdao offers a great race course for the Series with reaching starts, up and down legs and the finishing line close to the shore offer a fantastic show to the competitors and spectators. Even the best teams had bad races so at the end the team that made the least number of mistakes won the event and such was the case last year and so far this year. We have to come back for the next event with a different strategy.”

Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg aims for top five finish at Mapfre Palma Vela

April 20, 2012

Written by Eva Belanyiova

The Gazprom sponsored Swan 60 sailing yacht Bronenosec from the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg had another chance to race in excellent race conditions in Bay of Palma, with winds once again above 15 knots.

Mapfre PalmaVela 2012 - Image Credit MartinezStudio

Mapfre PalmaVela 2012 - Image Credit MartinezStudio

Day two finished with a 6th place in Race 3, followed by a 7th position in Race 4.  The first race registered excellent boat speed from the team aboard Bronenosec who led the competing Swan 60, Emma from Germany round the race track until the final leg into the finish line.

In the second race of the day, the Russian / Italian team unfortunately became becalmed by a patch of limited wind which pulled the Swan 60 back from 20 seconds to be behind by 4 minutes, showing in their final placing.

Tomasso Chieffi, with 17 previous World Championship titles to his name, has a lot of professional knowledge to provide the team with this campaign and is committed to working on a top five overall result for the end of the event.

“Today we had a good first race leading Emma all the way and only just lost it at the end, so I do think we as a team have the capability to pull back to 5th overall by the last day.  It is always a challenge at the start of a new campaign when racing against similar yachts that have a few more seasons of experience racing as a set team than ourselves.  Personally I think we were sailing a lot better in many aspects compared to yesterday and I am pleased to have another two solid races on the score board, we are definitely improving each time we race together and the morning debriefs are helping us to correct any mistakes we pick up on”.

Only a matter of  6 points separates positions 4th to 7th on the leader board, Swan 60, Bronenosec is now 7th overall in the competitive Mini Maxi fleet. She sits a mere 1 point behind 6th place and 2.5 points behind 5th position and is therefore in a strong position to pull back into the top 5.

The team are looking forward to lighter airs tomorrow for the long distance race.  This will be a complete change in racing style for the helm, Vladimir Liubomirov, and will provide both the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg Commodore as well as his fellow race crew with a new dimension to race against the International sailing stars.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: Day 7 – De Lage Landen wins

April 20, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Overnight, on the Day 7 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, when the leading team decided to forego possible Scoring Gate points in favour of an inshore course as well as stronger winds, the Gold Coast Australia team has taken the lead.

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit Abner KingmanonEdition

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race Credit: Abner Kingman/onEdition

With the ten teams now one week into the 5,500-mile leg from California to New York via the Panama Canal, Richard Hewson and his team are hoping their decision will pay dividends in the long term as they close in on the finish line of Race 10.

Skipper of Gold Coast Australia, Richard Hewson, said his team opted for a “bold move” yesterday to sail closer to the shore than any other yacht in the fleet. “The crew worked well today and sailed the boat very well in the light conditions trying to improve our position on the leader board,” he said. For the moment, the hard work has paid off and the team has now moved into pole position.

Out in front, the team on Gold Coast Australia has been enjoying the abundant sea life in the area. “The wildlife close to the Mexican coast is amazing and today we have seen numerous groups of dolphin, a turtle, a pod of whales, flying fish, squid and schools of large pelagic fish,” Richard said.

Yesterday Richard and his team voted to disregard the Scoring Gate in favour of sailing their own course in order to focus on the bigger picture.

“As we approached the Scoring Gate it appeared to be already full with De Lage Landen, Qingdao and Welcome to Yorkshire all about to cross…It will be interesting to view the results over the next few days to see if our inshore tactics pay off,” Richard added.

Stuart Jackson and his crew on De Lage Landen were the first to reach the Scoring Gate at 22:56:56 UTC last night to claim the maximum three points on offer to the first team to cross the line between 24 N and 113 50 W and 24 N and 113 W.

Welcome to Yorkshire was the second team through the Scoring Gate at 00:07:41 this morning, just over an hour after the Dutch team, to secure two points. Qingdao managed to clinch the remaining point on offer by reaching the Scoring Gate third at 00:29:00.

As the Scoring Gate is not a compulsory mark of the course some teams opted to forego the additional points on offer in order to stay in the narrow corridor of inshore wind in the hope of securing a better overall result.

Despite being pipped to the maximum Scoring Gate points by De Lage Landen, Rupert Dean on Welcome to Yorkshire reports that its been “one of those halcyon days” for his team with blue skies, sunshine, warm weather and pleasant downwind sailing conditions. He reports smiles all round as Welcome to Yorkshire sails on “a magic carpet flat sea”.

The last 48 hours have proved very tense on Welcome to Yorkshire, as the team battled to secure valuable points, and Rupert reports that the added pressure has focused his team no end.

In order to maximise their chances of securing the extra points, the team specialised several roles on board as they approached the Scoring Gate in a close battle with De Lage Landen and Qingdao.

“Pinpoint helming, zealous trimming, perfectly executed gybes and peels of our kites have all made their mark and everyone on board has reason to be proud of their contribution to our success,” Rupert said.

Qingdao’s efforts to reach the Scoring Gate were hampered by damage to the team’s medium weight spinnaker. Skipper Ian Conchie reports that he was called on deck to find the foot of the sail had caught on the pulpit resulting in a five-metre rip across the bottom.

The team quickly got the damaged sail down and hoisted their lightweight, in order to fix the torn sail with Dacron sticky tape.

“We continued to head for the gate but couldn’t quite go fast enough to beat De Lage Landen and Welcome to Yorkshire,” Ian said.

On Geraldton Western Australia, Juan Coetzer and his team just missed out on the Scoring Gate points but they report that they had Qingdao in their sights.

“Well done Qingdao, you have managed this time, but we have a visual on you and my crew is focused,” Juan said. He adds that the light winds have allowed for some maintenance to be carried out and the crew are taking good care of the 68-foot yacht that has become their home as they race 40,000 miles around the world.

For Stuart Jackson and his team on De Lage Landen, crossing the Scoring Gate was “a fairly sedate affair” despite being first and claiming the maximum three points on offer.

The team had little more than five or six knots of boat speed all day, as they gybed their way towards Panama whilst managing to keep challenges from Welcome to Yorkshire and Qingdao at bay.

“The points will be very welcome after our tough race on Leg 6 but now we need to concentrate on maintaining our position and catching those who have sailed a different course around the Scoring Gate,” Stuart said.

New York is another team to sail a course outside the non-compulsory Scoring Gate, and has opted to sail inshore of the rest of the fleet. Currently in second place, behind Gold Coast Australia, Gareth Glover and his team will be hoping that their easterly tactics will keep them at the front of the fleet.

“Being more inshore than the rest of the fleet we sacrificed any chance of any Scoring Gate points, We’re now working on the overall plan to get us a top-three finish,” Gareth said.

“We hope in the next few days that our position closer to land will give us a better chance of more wind than the teams further offshore but it may come down to the luck of the gods who gets the wind,” he added.

Gareth reports that his team has cross-gybed with Visit Finland and has also been joined by a pod of whales, sunfish and dolphins as they head south.

On Visit Finland, Olly Osborne reports that his team has enjoyed a “great day’s sailing” and he reflects that it is hard to believe it is the same ocean that gave the fleet such a battering so recently.

“We were treated to a show of all sorts of marine life as we tracked down the steep contours of the Continental Ledge this afternoon, including a large group of sperm whales which came close up to the boat as we ghosted along beneath our lightweight spinnaker,” Olly said.

“I was concerned that we might hit one at first, but at the last minute they dived beneath us and disappeared with their small calves close by them. Such an encounter with these massive creatures is probably very rare and I am sure it will be one of the highlights of the journey for a lot of us,” Olly said.

Olly is another of the skippers who has opted for the inshore route sacrificing a shot at the extra mid-race points on offer. “We’re hoping that our decision to forego a run at the scoring gate for a more inshore route will pay off, and we’re hoping to make the best use of the coastal winds,” he said.

Singapore and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital are battling to make up ground after dealing with monumental spinnaker wraps.

Flavio Zamboni on Edinburgh Inspiring Capital sais his team has been doing a lot of downwind work including kite peels for the last 24 hours to keep the boat moving at the best possible speed and angle in very light airs. The team passed through the Scoring Gate, but failed to pick up any points as they had all being claimed by the time they reached it.

With more of the same weather forecast over the next few days, Flavio said his team is focused on trying to avoid windless patches.

On Singapore, Ben Bowley and his team spent over ten hours trying to coax down their wrapped kite using the full range of “pulling, tugging, gybing, teasing, swearing, sweating and tears” to try to get the vast sail free of the rigging.

Even four hours of nocturnal rig acrobatics failed to release the monster wrap, but finally the team managed to wrestle the “big white snake” back onto the deck.

“The whole episode has really helped to forge a strong, determined, harmonious and good-humored team out of a crew of two watches. I am immensely impressed with every single person’s efforts over the last 24 hours and feel that as a unit, we are better prepared for overcoming future challenges that are bound to present themselves further down the track,” Ben said.

“We have inevitably lost much ground to our competitors and I had hoped to have been further inshore by this stage of the race but the good news is that we are moving swiftly again in the right direction,” Ben added.

Mark Light and his team on Derry-Londonderry have also experienced a testing 24 hours. This morning Mark summed it up as the team’s “most frustrating day of the race so far”.

Despite lying in a healthy second place yesterday with high hopes of securing Scoring Gate points, the team emerged from Stealth Mode to discover they’d lost the wind in the central patch they occupied while the teams to the west and the east pulled ahead.

“We have sailed well and haven’t done anything wrong but our tactics have proven to be less than satisfactory. We are having to rethink our game plan and concentrate even harder on the job of clawing our way back up the fleet once again,” Mark said.

“Luckily for us, this is something that we are very used to and also very good at. With morale and teamwork very good on board we are still thinking of a successful finish to this race but a little shove in the right direction from Mother Nature would be a great help to us and would also be massively appreciated at this stage in the proceedings!” Mark added.